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Tue Dec 10, 2013, 02:36 PM

William Browder: The man behind the Magnitsky List

Browder got the phone call in the early morning of 17 November 2009. It was an unseasonably warm day in London, and he was still in bed.

A colleague told him the news. Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who had uncovered what he said was a $230m (140m) tax refund fraud in Moscow and was being held in a detention centre, was dead.

Years later Browder still remembers how he felt when he heard. "It was like a knife in the heart," he said.

Browder got out of bed and raced to the offices of his hedge fund company, Hermitage Capital, in the Golden Square area of London. He sent out a press statement pledging an independent investigation into Magnitsky's death.

On that day and in the years that followed, Browder approached the case in the way he was trained at Stanford business school - methodically. He analysed documents and focused on the money.

Browder pushed people in Washington to support a bill, the Magnitsky Act, that was signed into law in December 2012. It featured a list of 18 individuals, including three from Russia's interior ministry. Magnitsky's List, as it is known, includes people "who signed the documents", claimed Browder, that led to the lawyer's imprisonment and death.

The US government will deny visas to these individuals, if they request one, as well as freeze assets in the US.


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